When a player character moves through the game world, any character (other players, NPCs, monsters) within a certain radius around the player (visible range) gets reported to the player's game client. This lets the game draw those characters, allows the player to select them, shoot at them, etc.
Culling is a network design used by ArenaNet to limit the number of characters within visible range that are reported by the server to your game client. Once reached, this limit results in only the characters/NPCs closest to the player being reported to the client. The aim of this limitation is to:
- Limit server bandwidth and network resources.
- Reduce client-side resource utilization and client side technology requirements.
Although achieving these aims, culling has led to numerous problems due to nearby players and NPCs becoming completely invisible. While this is considered a problem throughout both PvE and WvW, it has been a particular problem within WvW, where the number of players during many battles is considerably larger than the chosen limit, resulting in numerous enemy players not being visible to opposing forces.
Removal in World vs. World
Culling has been removed from WvW in the Flame and Frost: The Razing release on March 26, 2013. WvW players are now expected to control the load on their systems in order to attain acceptable frame rates, by introducing limits themselves, using two new graphics settings:
- WvW Character Limit: Five settings from Lowest to Highest. Controls the total number of character models that may be displayed in WvW. The remaining characters will appear as nameplates only. It is assumed that the farther they are, the more probable that only their nameplate will be visible. The exact number of characters corresponding to these settings is unknown.[verification requested]
- WvW Character Quality: 3 settings from Lowest to Medium. Controls the number of high quality character models that may be displayed in WvW. Among the characters that are drawn (controlled using the setting above), this setting determines the number that is drawn normally, in high quality. The rest will appear as low quality character models which consume less resources on the player's computer.
Culling in PvE
Culling was observed to gradually increase in the PvE areas since the game's launch. The current observed limit is around 30 friendly NPCs and 12 monsters.[verification requested] As distant characters come closer, their bodies become visible some distance before their nameplates appear. Visible, but distant characters and monsters cannot be selected until they come within a minimum distance.
As you move your character in a direction, new characters/NPCs will gradually appear into the scene (taking a few seconds) while those behind you disappear. This gradual apparition was one of the issues affecting WvW stealthy characters, and providing them with a few seconds of extra invisibility as they came out of stealth.
Culling in PvE was removed with the Clockwork Chaos release on August 20, 2013.
Low Quality Models
Low quality models appear in both PvE and WvW (but not in PvP, including Heart of the Mists). They are faster to draw mainly due to lower detail, and because all characters wear one armor design per armor weight, and use one body model for both male and female Asura, one for Charr and one shared by Humans, Sylvari and Norn. The bodies and armor are also uniformly tinted to improve performance. In WvW, they use the team's color.
|Humans, Norn, Sylvari|
|Head||Commander's Helm||Duelist Mask||Devout Helm|
|Shoulders||Dark Pauldrons Skin||Studded Shoulders|
|Chest||Primeval Warplate||Duelist Coat||Country Coat|
|Gloves||Forgeman Gauntlets||Ascalonian Sentry Gloves||Acolyte Gloves|
|Pants||Heavy Plate Greaves||Outlaw Pants||Country Pants|
|Shoes||Heritage Warboots||Outlaw Boots||Inquest Shoes|
|Head||Electroplated Helm||Protean Helm||Magician Mask|
|Shoulders||Electroplated Epaulets||Protean Epaulets||Apostle Cowl|
|Chest||Electroplated Coat||Protean Coat||Magician Coat|
|Gloves||Electroplated Gloves||Protean Gloves||Magician Gloves|
|Pants||Electroplated Leggings||Protean Leggings||Magician Legs|
|Shoes||Electroplated Boots||Protean Boots||Magician Boots|
|Head||Legion Visor||Wrangler Helm||Magus Shroud|
|Shoulders||Legion Spaulders||Wrangler Shoulders||Magus Shoulders|
|Chest||Legion Hauberk||Rawhide Vest (shorter version)||Magus Coat|
|Gloves||Legion Fists||Wrangler Gloves||Magus Gloves|
|Pants||Legion Tassets||Wrangler Leggings||Magus Boots|
|Shoes||Legion Boots||Wrangler Boots||Magician Boots|